How can we support independent work in education? How can futures work sustain itself?
To answer these questions personally, I’m launching a new project today. It’s an effort to support the swarm of media I currently make. To sustain my future of education production, there is now a Patreon site.
Here’s what’s going on.
As I posted a couple of weeks ago, the sheer amount of stuff I’m producing has grown into a part-time job, between this blog, the FTTE report, the Future Trends Forum, the online book club, and a possible podcast. Some days this actually is a full time job.
I also have a full time job, as a speaker, consultant, and writer. My media production feeds into that, which is great, but does not sustain itself. Remember that I am an independent. No company backs me. I’m not affiliated with any educational institution. There’s no family fortune or hidden investment. My wife and I, while sending two children to college and dealing with medical bills, are entirely on our own.
I’m now facing the point where I could cut back on those fun, exciting projects in order to devote more time to BAC’s money-making services.
I don’t want to do that. I *love* the Forum, the book club, FTTE, and this blog. I really want to kick off a podcast.
So when I asked for suggestions, answers flooded back, both here and through other venues (Twitter, email, phone, in person, etc.). A leading response was to seek sponsorship. FTTE already has one sponsor, a very kind New York nonprofit. I have approached businesses, nonprofits, and foundations. But much more is needed.
Hence Patreon. I picked this because it was about supporting a person’s creative work, which is apposite in this case. I considered Kickstarter, but felt it too bound up to time-limited projects, whereas I hope to keep my projects running indefinitely.
I set up my Patreon site accordingly. You can see a few different parts of it:
- Funding levels tied to projects. The first funding goal keeps the lights on at this blog. The second maintains FTTE. The third, the Forum. The fourth powers a podcast. The fifth and especially the ultimate sixth levels lead to doing this work full time.
- A content feed. Yes, I’ll share and add content to the site, reflecting my ongoing work.
- Rewards tied to donations. As per usual crowdfunding practices, if you give a certain amount, I do something good in return. That means credits, Q+A, video events – see the site’s right column. I’ll take care of every contributor.
This is an experiment. I’ve never run one of these before, although I’ve studied the crowdfunding movement since it began, and contributed to, and benefitted from, various social funding efforts. I’m curious (among other things) to see how changing macroeconomics shapes how people participate – for example, will increasing inequality mean fewer or more small donations? Where will support come from geographically? Can the site support community, or will that reside in other venues?
I’ll report back regularly on the Patreon site (center column) as to how things are going. At year’s end, I’ll look back
and shudder from Trump’s presidency and assess how the project has gone through a post or several here, and perhaps before that.
Think of this Patreon as a version of the American National Public Radio paradigm. These digital projects are one big creative effort, and I couldn’t do it without listeners – and readers – and viewers – and questioners – and contributors like you. Please join me.